Category Archives: Brock’s Gap

Help Save Shades Mountain with the SOUND of MUSIC!

Friends of Shades Mountain
are sponsoring a Benefit Concert
at Wild Roast Cafe in Bluff Park,
featuring great live folk, mountain,
and classical guitar music,
as well as original songs
by the President of the Birmingham Music Club

Sunday, September 11th, 6:00PM

Click image to download & print pdf invitation

The Birmingham Historical Society continues to research the historic importance of Shades Mountain and Shades Creek to our community with recent attention focused on Brock’s Gap, and the publication of Shades Creek–Flowing Through Time. But the Friends of Shades Mountain also want to preserve it for the benefits it provides all of us NOW including:

  • The forest protects homeowners below from erosion, mudslides and damaging storm water runoff.
  • It helps keep the water and air in the county clean.
  • By providing visual screening, the forest enhances property values in the valley below and the ridge above the mountain.
  • It provides habitat for many plant and animal species, some rarely seen in other parts of the county and state.
  • It is an aesthetic value in itself, providing a lush green landscape that cools the eye of everyone coming around, over and under its forest canopy.
  • It helps protect Shades Creek, already imperiled by previous development.
  • The forests along this mountain help to keep homes cooler by reducing the effects of hot, humid summer days. In the winter, the forest provides wind brakes that cut heating costs.
  • The forest cover saves the county an estimated $1,500,000 per year by reducing air pollution and storm water runoff.

You can HELP by buying tickets or donating if you can’t attend.

Brock’s Gap as a Pedestrian Pathway per Hoover Developer

Click HERE for full article

The mission of the Birmingham Historical Society includes supporting the preservation of historic landmarks and educating the community about their significance. This often requires field study, mapping, photography, and fact checking before informing owners and developers about their property’s history.

Many times, owners are initially unaware of the historic significance of their property, but once it’s pointed out, they begin to see the historic landmarks on their property as amenities that not only need to be preserved but that can also enhance its marketability .

As posted in The Hoover Sun by Jon Anderson on November 25, 2021, Developer and Signature Homes President, Jonathon Belcher, soon realized how working around Brock’s Gap could enhance any future development as he states:

“… (he) wants to use the Brock’s Gap cut as a pedestrian pathway to help connect Ross Bridge and the Everlee community to 10 miles of mountain bike trails his company built in Trace Crossings, and eventually to historic coke ovens across the Cahaba River in Helena.”

“For us, that old railbed will serve as a great connector trail that’s already built, so we like having that there,” he said. “It enhances the communities we create.”

Completed 150 years ago, the beautiful, forested railbed at Brock’s Gap was the last and most laborious stretch of the South and North Alabama Railroad that finally connected Montgomery to the mineral region of central Alabama. With this important link finally in place, the city of Birmingham was founded a month later, on December 19th, 1871. For more photos and information, please click here and scroll to read all articles related to this issue (including this one).

And a year later, the final link of South & North —from Birmingham to Decatur — created the first railway linking the north and the south in the United States.

Thanks largely to the efforts of Birmingham Historical Society trustees, Marjorie White and Birgit Kibelka, the importance of Brock’s Gap has been brought to the attention of not only the community, but also to the developers and city leaders who will determine its future. For the Birmingham Historical Society, that is their stated mission, accomplished.

CBS 42 News Brings Attention to Brock’s Gap Concerns

View CBS video report by selecting image above

An interstate exchange is causing concern to Birmingham Historical Society members because of its impact upon the historic Brock’s Gap. A major mining area and a landmark of Birmingham’s founding, the nineteenth century site is currently a unique educational resource as well as a beautiful green space and nature trail. The hope is that interstate developers will consider not only traffic concerns but also the historic value of this site in their planning. For more information, please refer to this post.

Autumn Bracey with CBS News covers the story, interviewing Hoover Councilman, John Lyda, and Birmingham Historical Society Director, Marjorie White.

BHS concerns considered for Planned Parkway that could destroy Historic Landmark

It’s rewarding when the efforts of Birmingham Historical Society trustees to preserve a first-class historical site are not only recognized, but seriously considered by city leaders and developers in urban planning. Thanks to the research and site visits of BHS Director Marjorie White, and BHS Trustee and Hoover resident Birgit Kilbeka, plans for a 4 mile parkway that could potentially destroy the landmark Brock’s Gap are now being debated. This article in The Hoover Sun by Jon Anderson highlights the importance of what is being proposed.

An earlier BHS post follows the mile long walk along the railbed. And this BHS article highlights the importance of Brock’s Gap to the City of Birmingham and why it needs to be preserved.

Thank you to Birmingham Historical Society Trustees for bringing historical sites to the attention of developers. And thank you to developers and city planners for listening and responding to these concerns!

Traversing Brock’s Gap: The Historic Key to the Development of the Birmingham District

The City of Birmingham was founded in 1871, one month after the completion of the last link in the North-South railroad connecting Montgomery to Birmingham through Brock’s Gap. The new city was the center of the developing Birmingham District that grew quickly as a collection of iron ore, coal, and limestone mines. Manufacturing plants were scattered throughout a five-county region constituting today’s Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area. Attempts to bring the railroad up from the Cahaba River and across Shades Mountain began in the 1850s but were frustrated for many years by the difficult terrain. Brock’s Gap extracted a heavy toll both in terms of funds and human lives before the railbed was successfully completed.

A milelong railbed still exists as a forested road (follow it HERE) that is a potential greenway connection between Shades Mountain and the planned Cahaba Park on the Cahaba River near Helena. Unfortunately, the Brock’s Gap railbed stretches through an area near Interstate 459 that has been targeted for development. The railbed is threatened by a proposed interchange and future land uses.

The Brock’s Gap railbed is irreplaceable as a physical reminder of the success of our forbearers. They overcame difficult challenges developing the Birmingham District whose story begins with the railroads that run through the heart of the District to this day. Brock’s Gap is at the center of this history while also providing a unique public amenity. For more information, read THIS to follow the railbed as it currently exists and download and print this PDF to read about its creation and importance to the Birmingham District.